Pretty terrible slate of games in the Top 10 this weekend. However, that being said, this has been one of the most upset filled seasons I can remember, so it may turn out to be interesting. For George Mason, Saturday is Homecoming and I was lucky enough to score free tickets to the game, that should have me just a few rows away from the action. North Carolina will be looking for revenge against Virginia, and badly needs a quality win.
Saturday, February 16
Georgia State (13-14, 8-6) at George Mason (15-10)
An odd season for the Patriots continued last night, as they came from behind to defeat Drexel on the road. In years past, even when Mason had pretty good teams, those teams would struggle on the road, but were always dominant at home. This season, a mediocre Mason team hasn't been that great at home, but has played most of their best games on the road. They hope to put forth a strong home performance for Homecoming on Saturday against Georgia State.
Athletic guards have given Mason problems this year, so it could be a long day trying to guard the Panthers R.J. Hunter. Hunter has struggled with his shot in his last two games, shooting a combined 6 for 26. But he is also capable of exploding, like he did for 38 points against Old Dominion. The Panthers other dangerous guard is Devonta White. White has scored in double figures in every game this season but one. The transfer from Virginia Tech, Manny Atkins, is the Panthers leading rebounder and third leading scorer. The Panthers have no shortage of offensive firepower, so Mason will have to play some excellent defense.
The Patriots leading scorer Sherrod Wright has looked a little off in his last three games, and I think for Mason to win Saturday he will have to get back on track. Obviously, he will need some help, but Mason will need his firepower to keep up with the Panthers guards. It would also be nice if Eric Copes can continue his strong play, and limit the effectiveness of Atkins on the boards.
You never know which Mason team you will get from game to game, but hopefully a packed house for Homecoming will have the team mentally prepared and ready to put forth the performance necessary to earn a victory.
Prediction: George Mason 67, Georgia State 62
Virginia (18-6, 8-3) at North Carolina (16-8, 6-5)
The Heels have dropped their last two games, and now have to face a red hot Virginia team. The Cavaliers beat UNC in Charlottesville to start the ACC schedule, and have won seven of their last eight games. The catalyst for their strong player has been guard Joe Harris. Harris has gone for over 20 points in four of his last five games. For Carolina, James Michael McAdoo has not looked good in the last two games and needs to play much better on Saturday. His shoot has looked off and his dreadful free throw shooting really cost the Heels against Duke.
Carolina had their worst offensive performance of the season against Virginia, mostly because only Reggie Bullock bothered to show up. Point guard Marcus Paige had a terrible game, but has improved since then. He will have to find guys like Bullock, Dexter Strickland, and P.J. Hairston when they are open, and let everyone get into the flow of the offense.
While Virginia has been winning as of late, they have some really bad losses, so they can't rest on their laurels if they want to make the NCAA Tournament. Both of these teams will be desperate and this game should have a postseason level of intensity to it. It will really come down to whether or not the Heels can get their offense flowing, and defensively, not allow anyone else besides Harris to take over.
Prediction: North Carolina 61, Virginia 58
Saturday, February 16
Purdue (12-13, 5-7) at #1 Indiana (22-3, 10-2)
Indiana still appears to be the favorite come March to cut down the nets. They recovered from the tough loss at Illinois, by earning an impressive road win at Ohio State. This is their second time playing Purdue this season, a team they beat by 37 on the road earlier this year. This will be a chance for some subs to get some garbage time minutes.
Prediction: Indiana 82, Purdue 64
#2 Duke (22-2, 9-2) at Maryland (17-7, 5-6)
Not many of these battles left with Maryland bolting for the Big Ten in 2014-2015. This is a huge game for the Terps, as a loss will basically mean that they have to win the ACC Tournament to make the NCAA's. Duke seems ripe for an upset, they barely survived at Boston College last weekend, and struggled for most of their win against North Carolina. Terps big man Alex Len has to have a big game, especially with Ryan Kelly absent. Len was too much of a non-factor in their meeting in Durham earlier this season. The Terps will also have to find a way to contain Duke guard Rasheed Sulaimon, who torched them for 25 points. Seems like a tall task, but Duke isn't as strong away from Cameron, and I think the desperate team will come out ahead.
Prediction: Maryland 66, Duke 64
#5 Gonzaga (24-2, 11-0) at San Francisco (11-14, 4-8)
Gonzaga had a statement win last night, thrashing St. Mary's on the road in the second half. They are basically biding their time until the NCAA Tournament starts. It is looking more and more like they may be a real factor in March.
Prediction: Gonzaga 72, San Francisco 57
#6 Syracuse (20-4, 8-3) at Seton Hall (13-12, 2-10)
The Orange are looking to bounce back after falling at UCONN earlier this week. For Seton Hall to have a chance at the upset, star player Fuquan Edwin will have to get some help. However, the Pirates have dropped six straight, so Syracuse shouldn't have much trouble.
Prediction: Syracuse 68, Seton Hall 58
#7 Florida (20-3, 10-1) at Auburn (9-15, 3-8)
The Gators put away any question who the class of the SEC was this year, with a home thrashing of Kentucky. At this point they are playing for seeding and hoping to try to move up to a number one seed. Their smallest margin of victory in all their SEC wins this year, is 14 points. That is incredible.
Prediction: Florida 75, Auburn 55
#8 Michigan State (21-4, 10-2) at Nebraska (12-13, 3-9)
The Spartans are feeling pretty good about themselves after their demolition of Michigan on Tuesday. Because of that, I think they are due for a letdown in this game in Lincoln and will have more trouble with the Huskers than people think. While they might struggle, G Keith Appling will make sure they walk away with the victory.
Prediction: Michigan State 65, Nebraska 59
Baylor (16-8, 7-4) at #10 Kansas State (19-5, 8-3)
These teams head into this game in opposite directions. Kansas State didn't bother showing up for their rivalry game at Kansas. Baylor has looked dominant in their last two wins, although those both came at home against poor opposition. Pierre Jackson is a terrific point guard for Baylor, while Rodney McGruder serves as the Wildcats mister everything. I expect this to be a close, exciting game.
Prediction: Kansas State 71, Baylor 70
Sunday, February 17
#3 Miami (20-3, 11-0) at Clemson (13-11, 5-7)
Miami just keeps on winning in the ACC, and if all goes according to plan, they should still be undefeated in conference when they take on Duke on March 2 at Cameron. They better not get caught looking that far ahead, as Clemson is a tough team to beat in Littlejohn Coliseum. The Tigers Devin Booker will be clanging and banging with the Canes Reggie Johnson. Miami has won three of their last four road games by single digits and I think they are due for an upset loss at some point.
Prediction: Clemson 67, Miami 65
Penn State (8-16, 0-12) at #4 Michigan (21-4, 8-4)
Poor Penn State will be the sacrificial lamb for the Wolverines to take out all their frustrations from their embarrassing loss at Michigan State, and heartbreaking loss at Wisconsin.
Prediction: Michigan 83, Penn State 58
#9 Arizona (20-4, 8-4) at Utah (11-13, 3-9)
The Wildcats have played very poorly their last two games, and were pushed around by Cal last night. The Utes could prove to be the cure to their woes, although they are coming off a nice home win against Arizona State.
Prediction: Arizona 75, Utah 69
Last Week: 6-4